Marines honour ally killed by US

Friendly fire
Click to follow
The Independent Online

US Marines fired a 21-gun salute and read from the Koran at a desert burial yesterday for an allied Afghan killed by a US bomb in the battle for Kandahar.

US Marines fired a 21-gun salute and read from the Koran at a desert burial yesterday for an allied Afghan killed by a US bomb in the battle for Kandahar.

The body lay in a white shroud next to the open grave, dug at the foot of a sand dune that serves as a lookout post for the Marine base. Lance Corporal Anis Trabelsi, a Muslim from Baltimore, Maryland, in the US, chanted a prayer in Arabic. It opened with the line "Bismillah al-Rahman al-Rahim" – translated as "In the name of God, the compassionate, the merciful".

As he read a eulogy in the cold winter wind of this southern desert in Afghanistan, Major Beau Higgins, an intelligence officer with the 15th Marine expeditionary unit and also a Roman Catholic lay preacher, described the funeral as taking place in a "spirit of tolerance and understanding".

He added: "What we're doing today is laying to rest a warrior and patriot.While none of us suffered the hardships of the Taliban regime firsthand, we have all been party to the suffering and extremes of religion brought to our country [by the 11 September attacks]."

The Marines did not release the name of the fighter – as his family had to be notified – but claimed he had fought for the Pashtun tribal leader Hamid Karzai, who has now been appointed as leader of Afghanistan's new interim administration.

Captain Stewart Upton said the man had died on the way to the USS Peleliu, a floating hospital, after being wounded on a battlefield north of Kandahar by a "wayward" 2,000lb smart bomb dropped from a B-52. Three US servicemen and five other Afghan fighters were also killed in the incident on Wednesday.

In a ceremony involving full military honours, seven Marines, wearing helmets and flak jackets, fired off three crisp and simultaneous bursts from their M-16s.

Comments